Want to watch “Macbeth” in school? If you’re a student at Scotia-Glenville Central School District, you’ll need a signed permission slip from your parents.
The Board of Education has adopted a new policy that requires teachers to inform parents when they are showing a movie, video or other audiovisual material in class. Parents have the right to have their child opt out and be provided with an alternative assignment.
Only movies with an educational purpose should be shown, the policy states. Teachers are asked to develop a list of all audiovisual materials to be used during a school year and this list will be approved by the school principal or academic department head before the start of the school year “to the extent practicable,” according to the policy.
Scotia-Glenville spokesman Robert Hanlon said movies and videos are an important part of the educational program as an extension of what is being taught in classrooms and read in textbooks.
“They can tell a story in a more personal, human way than a textbook is able to do,” he said in an email. “It is difficult for students to appreciate a scene in the middle of a war or from the Holocaust, for example, by reading it in a textbook. Movies and videos do an excellent job of portraying situations and allow a student to relate to history or the subject of the movie.”
The purpose of the policy is to ensure consistency and that all teachers are working with the same set of rules.
“While every effort is made to ensure that a movie is appropriate, we are sensitive to the needs and wishes of parents and families. This policy allows a parent to opt out of the showing of a movie or video if they do not want their child exposed to it,” he said.
That pleased parent Nicole Broadhead, who spoke at Monday’s board meeting in support of such a policy. She said she doesn’t see the value of students watching Hollywood movies. “I really don’t think R-rated movies should be shown,” she said.
Among the films that she said her daughter’s classes watched in the past year were “Macbeth” in English and a film about the Argentinian Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara in Spanish class. Her daughter was sent to the library for those classes but she said that put her at a disadvantage. “They’ll test from the movie,” she said.
Broadhead added that she would rather that the teachers teach students — rather than leaving it to Hollywood.
Having students get signed permission slips to watch movies is pretty common, according to New York State School Boards Association spokeswoman Barbara Bradley.
“It’s a heads-up to the parents: this is what’s going on,” she said.
Bradley added that she has signed many a permission slip, particularly with health videos. She recalled that her son’s health care class watched the movie “Juno,” which is about a teenage girl who becomes pregnant and has a baby in high school.
Schenectady City School District spokeswoman Karen Corona said any movie that is not rated “G” requires a signed parent permission slip. Also, movies have to have an educational focus.
“Any movie must have a direct connection to the curriculum being studied,” she said.
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